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Clevinger to compete in second-consecutive national appearance; Best travels as alternate

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State senior Kaylan Clevinger and freshman Rebecca Best travel to Athens, Ga., this week for the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, hosted by the University of Georgia in Stegeman Coliseum. 

Clevinger, who is making her second-consecutive appearance at the national championships, will compete in the all-around in Session One at 1 p.m. Thursday. She competed as an event specialist on uneven parallel bars last season. Best is traveling as one of six alternates in the all-around.

Clevinger will begin her all-around competition on vault followed by bars, beam and floor. The Top 4 gymnasts from each session in each event will advance to the individual event competition at 6 p.m. Saturday. Live scoring and video is available at Georgia’s Web site, www.GeorgiaDogs.com, along with complete event information.

THE ROAD TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Clevinger and Best both posted all-around scores of 39.150 at the regional championships April 12 for the second-best all-around score from a non-advancing team (Ohio State placed third overall). Only two competitors from each region on a non-advancing team can advance to nationals, however, and in a tie-breaker Clevinger was given the nod from the regional officials by virtue of owning the highest event score between herself and Best (9.875 on bars).

Clevinger is a two-time All-Big Ten selection (first-team in 2007, second-team in 2008) and last year became the first Ohio State representative to qualify for nationals since 2001 when All-American Lindsay Vagedes competed in the all-around.

COACH FAGAN ON CLEVINGER AND BEST
“It’s a huge honor to have two girls going to nationals and it’s an indication of where the program is heading,” Carey Fagan, Ohio State head coach, said. “Rebecca and Kaylan tied in the all-around at regionals, so they both performed equally well that night. They break the tie by the highest event score and it came down to a quarter-tenths of a point on one event between those two”

“The talent pool in NCAA gymnastics is very deep, so for Kaylan to be one of eight all-arounders from around the country selected to go to nationals is a major accomplishment,” Fagan said. “We are very proud of her. The pressure was on at regionals to be in one of the top spots and she came through. And I’m very excited for Rebecca to get that experience to see the teams at nationals and be Kaylan’s training partner leading up to the competition. It will be a great experience for both of them.”

“I was really wanting to see Kaylan develop as a leader this season,” Fagan said. “Athletically, she has gotten better every year she has been here and has grown into a leader, which is something we have been working really hard with her on as a senior. This season has been a little bit of a roller coaster. Toward the end of the season when she saw that the end of her career was close, I think Kaylan started putting a little too much pressure on herself thinking that This is my last year, I have to do this.’ But as the year came to a close, she was able to relax and get into a good, competitive rhythm.”

GET TO KNOW KAYLAN CLEVINGER
Senior Kaylan Clevinger will be representing the Buckeyes in the national championship for the second-consecutive year. She enters the NCAA Championships with a 38.525 average in the all-around after competing in the event in five meets this season. Clevinger holds a 9.880 regional qualifying average on bars, which ranks 20th in the nation. She has led the Buckeyes in the event in every meet this season and has posted a near-perfect 9.90 twice.

On floor, Clevinger holds a 9.830 RQS. She has posted a season-high 9.875 twice this season on floor. Clevinger scored a season-best 9.800 on beam at the regional championships after competing in the event in only six meets this season. She averages a 9.679 on vault with a regional qualifying average of 9.650 on the event. Clevinger has competed on vault in seven meets this season and she posted a season-high 9.775 Feb. 3 at the All-Ohio Championships.

A FEW WORDS FROM CLEVINGER
Clevinger is making her second-consecutive appearance at the national championships. Last season at regionals, she tied for the top score on bars and thus earned a berth at the national championships. A fall during her routine, however, knocked her out of contention for All-American honors.

“Last year my mentality was go big or go home,” Clevinger said of her trip to nationals on bars. “I went big, but I ended up falling. It was the first routine that I had fallen on all year, so that was disappointing, but I couldn’t ask for anything else. Overall it was an amazing experience and something I will never forget. I got to see what it takes for teams and individuals to get to nationals. I came in this year trying to show my team what it takes to get there and we came close, but every year has been an improvement.”

The second time around is a totally different experience for Clevinger, who will be competing as an all-arounder.

“I am much more relaxed this year knowing I have four events to do,” Clevinger said. “Last year I just had one event and 30 seconds to do it, so this year I’m much more comfortable. I know what to expect, which is huge compared to last year. It was a completely new experience, but my coaches and I are used to it now. It’s more exciting than nerve-racking and this year I have more opportunities to finish the way I want to finish.”

An added bonus for Clevinger this week in Athens will be her teammate, Rebecca Best, at her side during the competition. Best tied Clevinger’s all-around score at regionals, but Clevinger’s 9.875 on bars marked the highest event score between the two of them and thus the right to compete at nationals, while Best will be an alternate.

“It’s so nice to have someone to go with you,” Clevinger said of Best. “Plus she will get to experience something to help the team next year. Cross your fingers that she will get to compete, but either way she will get to go and see what goes on. She’ll definitely be there in the next few years and it’s great she gets the opportunity to go this year.”

A LOOK AT REBECCA BEST
Best holds an average of 39.075 in the all-around after she led Ohio State in nine meets this season. On vault, Best leads the Buckeyes with a regional qualifying average of 9.835. She posted a season-high 9.875 vs. Pittsburgh Feb. 16. On floor, Best posted a near-perfect 9.90 three-times this season to boost her RQS to a 9.865. She holds a RQS of 9.765 RQS on bars and a 9.720 RQS on beam.

Clevinger has served as a mentor this season to Best, who will set her goals to return to nationals the next three years.

“Kaylan is a leader and people try to follow her success,” Best said. “If things aren’t going well, she brings everybody together and gets it turned around. It’s pretty amazing that she is going to nationals in the all-around. Kaylan helped me on bars and beam, especially. There were some skills I wasn’t getting. It was my goal to make it to nationals and I think it’ll be a lot of fun that we’re going together.”

BUCKEYES THIRD AT REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
With a 195.125 team total, Ohio State finished third at the NCAA Central Region Championships April 12 in Baton Rouge, La. The team score marked a program record for Ohio State at regionals, which made its 23rd regional appearance. It also marked the Buckeyes’ best finish at regionals since a third-place finish in 2000.

Ohio State finished with a 48.775 on floor and vault, a season-best 48.900 on bars and a 48.675 on beam.

On bars, Clevinger posted a 9.875 to help Ohio State tie its season-best bars total of 48.900. Clevinger tied her career best on beam with a team-high 9.800. She added a 9.75 on floor and a 9.725 on vault.

Best led the Buckeyes in the first two rotations with a 9.800 finish on floor and she tied her season-best on vault with a 9.850. Best added a 9.750 on both bars and beam to post an all-around total of 39.150.

Juniors Kiki Holman and Alyssa Meyer posted consistent numbers for Ohio State in every event. Holman tied Clevinger on vault with a season-high 9.725 and on beam with a 9.80. Holman and Meyer scored a 9.75 on bars, while Meyer added a 9.70 on floor.

Senior Maalika Moore-Thomas posted a 9.775 on vault and floor, while senior Jessica Rosette added a 9.750 on floor. 

LEADING THE WAY By the Numbers

VAULT RQS (Region Rank)
1. Rebecca Best 9.835 (18)
2. Beth Ann Ballard 9.805 (t-29)
3. Maalika Moore-Thomas   9.790 (34)

BARS RQS (Region Rank)
1. Kaylan Clevinger 9.880 (3)
2. Rebecca Best 9.765 (t-27)
3.  Alyssa Meyer  9.740 (32)

BEAM RQS (Region Rank) 
1. Kiki Holman 9.765 (22)
2. Rebecca Best   9.720 (t-38)
3. Hillary Dow 9.680 (t-46) 

FLOOR RQS (Region Rank)
1. Maalika Moore-Thomas 9.870 (8)
2. Rebecca Best  9.865 (9)
3. Kaylan Clevinger 9.830 (38) 

ALL-AROUND RQS (Region Rank)
1. Rebecca Best 39.075 (12)
2. Hillary Dow 38.600 (19)

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